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Home / NewTech / 4G is not yet dead: Qualcomm reveals LTE versions of its mid-range Snapdragon chips

4G is not yet dead: Qualcomm reveals LTE versions of its mid-range Snapdragon chips



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Companies like Xiaomi are planning to use Qualcomm's new 4G Snapdragon processors.


Óscar Gutierrez / CNET

Tech companies can't stop talking about 5G, but chip maker Qualcomm still has a lot going for 4G: three new LTE processors for mid-range and low-end phones. 662 and 460 processors enable cheaper phones to get faster 4G connectivity. The new chips also have Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2, as well as technologies to improve the artificial intelligence and receptivity of a phone.

Xiaomi is a company that wants to use the Snapdragon 720G, which is designed for gaming phones. The processor is similar to Qualcomm's 760G which offers gaming phones built-in 5G connectivity. Other mobile phone manufacturers in India, such as Realme, have also announced that they will use Qualcomm's new 4G processors this year.


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The company announced that devices with the Snapdragon 720G will be launched this quarter, while phones based on the Snapdragon 662 and 460 will be available in late 2020.

"Obviously we played a very big role" … [in] bringing 5G to the market, "said Kedar Kondap, Qualcomm vice president of product management, in a call to reporters before the news." But it does continues to be a fairly strong user base of 4G users around the world. "

Of the 8 billion cellular connections last year, half used 4G," he said.

"We have a very strong user base and we want to make sure that we’re offering our users a good 4G experience, ”said Kondap.

5G is touted as a breakthrough technology that has the ability to dramatically increase the speed and range of wireless networks. It can be anywhere from 10 to 100 times today Run faster than a typical 4G cellular connection. Switching from 4G to 5G is different from previous network upgrades. 5G does not replace 4G, just like 4G has overtaken 3G sen builds 5G on 4G LTE and uses updated radios and software.

4G's Long Life

While 5G could become mainstream in the US this year it could take much longer to spread across developing markets or even rural areas. At the same time, carriers update their 5G networks and also increase the speed of their 4G networks . And even in places with widespread 5G coverage, phones need to use 4G networks. This means that 4G will persist for a long time.

According to a report by GSMA Intelligence in 2019, the research branch of the mobile operator group that hosts the Mobile World Congress, 15% of mobile communications worldwide will be operated with 5G by 2025. However, LTE usage will be around 59% in the same year, after 43% in 2018. (In North America, the distribution will be more balanced with around 47% of the 2025 connections on 5G and 44% on 4G). Even though 5G will see an even larger portion of the market by 2025 than is currently believed, "it will complement LTE rather than replace it," it said in a separate report from 2018.

Qualcomm's new chips are largely aimed at places like India , where 5G is likely to take longer to assert itself. But they could also be popular in some segments of the US market, Kondap said. Qualcomm's 5G chips are currently designed for high-end phones and some cheaper devices.

"There is still a substantial 4G user base for the tier below in the US and in mature markets," said Kondap. "We expect us to be able to bring some of these products to regions outside of India, Southeast Asia or Latin America."

While Qualcomm's high-end chips power devices such as Samsung's flagship phones, the company’s Series 7 and below chips are very popular in the mobile phone market. Motorola and TCL are a few companies that often rely on the 7 series for their new devices. Qualcomm said that more than 85 devices used the Snapdragon 7 series, more than 1,600 the 6 series and over 2,500 the 4 series.

The company's Snapdragon 720G offers smooth HDR gameplay and realistic graphics. In addition, users can take 4G video or 192 megapixel photos. The latest fifth generation AI engine from Qualcomm is also included in the high-end processors. The technology "will enable a variety of new AI experiences for games, photography, voice assistants and context information that is practically always up to date," the company said.

The Snapdragon 720G also has an integrated X15 LTE modem, which enables download speeds of up to 800 Mbit / s.

The Snapdragon 662 supports triple-camera configurations, a first for the company's 6-series chips. It will also include Qualcomm's third generation AI engine, which allows phone manufacturers to add things like avatars, night photography, and face and voice authentication to cheaper phones. The processor is equipped with the new X11 LTE modem, which can download data at up to 390 Mbit / s.

And the Snapdragon 460, which targets cheap phones, significantly improves performance and connection speed. The new CPU is 70% faster than the chip's predecessor, the Snapdragon 450, while the GPU is 60% faster. Overall, the system performance is twice that of the older chip. Like the Snapdragon 662, the Snapdragon 460 also includes the third-generation AI engine and an integrated X11 modem.


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